Only the Lid – A sustainability podcast about single use coffee cups

How ‘Only the Lid’ came to be

When planning this project, the idea of an educational podcast began to form. To emphasize the key message of the limited recyclability of coffee cups, the podcast would need to feature more than one voice. To incorporate a multitude of different voices and perspectives, several current UQ students were enlisted to allow for audio variation and a display of a variation of opinions. Students were given a brief description of the task and then asked the following, simple question: How do you recycle a coffee cup? The podcast contains these answers. After the student gave their answers, they were encouraged to engage in conversation regarding this topic. Most students were shocked and surprised by the key facts, that only 8% of coffee cups are correctly recycled, and only the lid can be currently recycled. Subsequently, the podcast was titled, ‘Only the Lid’, to emphasise the limited recyclability of coffee cups.  The choice to include an educational segment at the end incorporated some interesting facts I learned while researching. Several additional sources were consulted to inform the discussion within the podcast. These sources are listed as below.


Consulted Sources

Source 1:COMU3130 client session

Within the client briefing of UQ sustainability it was mentioned that few students definitively know how to recycle, rather, they only think they know how to recycle, or, they have no idea.  Over the course of making the podcast, this became very clear.


Source 2: My personal experience as a coffee drinker, who attempts to be slightly more sustainable in my everyday life. Conversations with friends and family definitely impacted my opinion, which is why I wanted this podcast to be dictated by my personal voice.


Source 3:Ting, A. (2018). Reducing coffee cup waste at the University of Queensland: the importance of meso-level factors to incentivise pro-environmental behaviour [Master’s Thesis, The University of Queensland, UQ Business School].

A master’s thesis written by a University of Queensland student with a focus on Coffee waste on campus.  The source outlined 9 barriers to sustainable coffee consumption and 6 potential incentives to encourage it.


Source 4: PARK, M. (2014, May 30). A Brief History of the Disposable Coffee Cup. Bon Appetit.

An outline of the history of the single use disposable coffee cups. Some key points for this are that the growth of the single use movement began with more knowledge of the germ theory of disease and the Spanish flue.


Source 5: Keep Cup. (2022). Going disposable free. Keep cup.

Keep cup is an Australian Keep cup brand that was founded in Melbourne Australia. The brand was developed with the simple concept to keep it and use it again. There website combines informative content surrounding coffee culture and the benefits of reusing.


Source 6: Tucker, C. M. (2010). Coffee culture local experiences, global connections. Routledge.

Coffee culture has seen rapid expansion. This source outlines the links of coffee to our social lives and its connections throughout history.  Often consumption rates of coffee go up and down but is has remained a staple in many societies sometimes ranking second after water.

Source 7: UQ Sustainability. (2022). Green Caffeen: choose to reuse.

UQ sustainability website has been consolidated multiple times throughout this assignment. The green caffeine program was a focal point as coffee culture is very present in Australia with the impact of it being very unknown.